South Sudan’s prominent activist faces charges of terrorism

(JUBA) - South Sudanese rights activist and vocal critic Peter Biar appeared Thursday before the court for the first time since his arrest nearly eight months ago but the charges he is facing are different from the one filed against him initially".

Biar was arrested at Juba airport while on 28 July 2018 as he was on his way to Aweil, his arrest intervened posting on Tweeter several messages hostile to the South Sudanese leadership. Also, he was known for his criticism for the peace process at the time.

He was first charged with national security-related offences such as publishing false statements prejudicial to South Sudan, treason among others.

However, on Thursday, he appeared before the High Court in Juba for alleged charges of threatening the national security and terrorism in accordance with the Penal Code, and the National Security Act.

Biar is accused of insurgency, terrorism, banditry and sabotage; violence in a public place; possession of firearms and ammunition inside a detention facility and gathering several individuals to commit a crime.

The South Sudanese prominent activist, in fact, is now accused by the security services of orchestrating a riot at the National Security detention facility in Juba, the "Blue House" when armed inmates took two guards hostage on 7 October 2018.

The court said the trial will continue until Monday 25 March. He is tried with Kerbino Agok Wol, a South Sudanese businessman and six other detainees.

Wol also was detained for a different charge but now he appears for alleged the same charges as Biar.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF) called for a fair trial for the activist and the other detainees.

"We call on the high court to provide Mr Biar with full access to his lawyers for him to exercise his constitutional right to defend himself," further said the SSCSF.

On 7 October 2018, The Voice of America Radio reached Biar by telephone to have more details about what happening in the Blue House, as the attack occurred nearby a section for the political detainees.

During the telephone call, he said the situation was volatile and called on the government to negotiate with the detainees who demanded to be tried or released, complaining from the continued detention without charge.

"What we are hoping for is that the government of South Sudan is able to resolve this and is able to negotiate to those who have taken this decision to resort to this kind of armed protest," he added.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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